Tory Historian has just finished the highly entertaining Shooting Leave by Sir John Ure, a collection of tales of derring-do, espionage and scientific exploration as well as lots of shooting of birds and animals in the Great Game. It is thoroughly to be recommended to anyone who is interested in that subject.
Nor had the fascination of Central Asia, and Afghanistan in particular, evaporated for the British. The early years of the twenty-first century found us fighting there again, bravely and at times frustratingly, as so often in the past. Newsreels, novels and films about Kabul and Afghans filled television screens, bookstalls and cinemas. The charm of the Afghans, so mistakenly relied on by 'Bokhara' Burnes and others, remains as sharply etched as ever, and is still perhaps best described by General John Nicholson (who had served there in the 1840s and was to be killed in the Indian Mutiny): 'the most experienced and astute of our political officers in Afghanistan were deceived by that winning and imposing frankness of manner which it has pleased Providence to give the Afghans, as it did to the first serpent'.